Corvette History through Ads: Not Your Average Dream
Though print advertising for the Corvette had tapered to a trickle in the early 1990’s and for the most part died with the onset of GM’s financial struggles, the few ads that did make it to print were considered some of the best. And those ads usually had a lot to talk about since they were primarily advertisements that introduced either new generations or new models. The exception was this ad that ran in ‘95 as the curtain began to fall on the Fourth Gen ‘Vette. It did not introduce a new model or new generation but rather was an inducement to drive sales for another year until the C5 could be unveiled.
Among the different Corvette generations the C4 is perhaps the most controversial, plagued by problems from the very beginning and hanging on for three years longer than originally planned due to GM’s financial woes in the early ‘90’s that delayed the C5’s introduction. If you are not a fan of the C4 you should keep in mind that this generation was the one that brought performance back to the forefront for Corvette for both handling and speed.
It went head to head with the European and Japanese competition and came out on top. It was the generation that brought back the convertible. Auto magazines praised the car and when the ZR1 came out it set the standard for a performance sports car. And the legendary Grand Sport model returned in 1996. It was the first generation to use an outside company to supply a RPO for performance enhancement with the Callaway B2K RPO—and this all occurred in spite of overzealous government regulation and financial challenges.
Over 350,000 C4’s were produced between 1984 and 1996, the second longest production run of any generation. During its reign the base price of the Corvette rose from $22,800 at its introduction to $37,225 by the end of production. Horsepower grew from a meager 205 in 1984 to 330 in 1996. In addition several speed and endurance records were set by the stock ZR1 in 1990.
The C4 was long overdue for replacement by the end of the production run. Originally, the C5 was scheduled to be unveiled in 1993 and the Corvette designers and engineers had to keep the C4 competitive for almost four years beyond the original plan. Sales virtually held at about 21,000 cars a year from 1993 through 1996 despite its age, which speaks to the quality of the overall design and engineering. So the C4 can be proud of its accomplishments and even though it got off to a rocky start it carried America’s sports car well. And though the average dream lasts 6.6 minutes the C4 dream lasted thirteen years and for thousands of Corvette enthusiasts still continues today.